Contrary to popular belief, martyrdom doesn’t produce the best results. When teachers feel fulfilled, that’s when they teach most effectively. It’s unrealistic to expect teachers -- and most people in the public service/social justice sector -- to give themselves unconditionally for long periods of time. What is realistic is for people to give when they themselves already feel at peace.
There’s a famous Sufi saying that says “Give from the overflow of your well, not from its depths.” When we’re feeling unsatisfied or overwhelmed, and our “well” is empty, it’s difficult to serve others. When we have unmet needs, it’s more common for us to “take it out” on others, including our students. But when people focus first on filling their own “well” by making themselves happy and healthy, it becomes far easier to “give from the overflow.” When teachers feel fulfilled, it creates space for us to take on the responsibility of others and serve without resentment.
As Buddhist Minister and activist Thich Nhat Hanh has famously said, “Until we are able to love and take care of ourselves, we cannot be of much help to others.”
So as teachers and givers, it’s important to ask ourselves: “How do I love and take care of myself each day? What do I need to be in a “well overflowing” place?” For some people, there well is filled quite quickly. For others, it takes more time, effort, and prioritizing to ensure that their needs are being met.
This also relates back to the Human Function Graph. The spot before the apex is where your well is filled, where you can are still able to take on the heavy responsibility of a teaching job without feeling depleted. It’s far more realistic to give from that place of extensive resources, than when we’re already in distress.
The Teaching Well is founded and shepherded by a team of former teachers, all of whom have taught in public, private and charter schools around the country—all of them for over five years and many for more than a decade. We were all highly driven, highly successful educators who know what its like to try and give from an empty well. We also have all found that our lives and the lives of our students dramatically increased when we started taking care of ourselves FIRST. In this discovery, we knew we had to give back to our communities what we had learned.
Thus, The Teaching Well was born. As a team, we support teachers and administrators in tapping their wells within, so that they may give from their overflow. We aim to bring this valuable resource to the communities who need it the most—so that they can sustain the lives and dreams of the students who need them.
Join us at the Well!
Kelly and Jane